Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It

Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It

Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It

Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It

Most average SME's do not have Human Resource Departments or specifically designed training for managers that tackle stress in the workplace.

SME's that are still trading and making good profit in the new globalized world especially during these economic hard-times should be congratulated and please do not think we are not trying to take anything away from the effort taken to prosper at this time.

During the last twenty something years the world has been changing at a pace that many of us don't know how to keep up with... Every essential part of our lives is so different than it used to be not too long ago such as family life, work, even shopping and relationships. More and more often the individual feels lost in a world lead by pure numbers, profits, global interests, banks bailed out with taxpayer' money, strong economic recession etc.

So how does one deal with work-related stress when having responsibilities in a small or medium sized business?

Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It

Without taking into account all the shiny named departments, professionals and resources of the multinational giants, a SME has as much legal obligation in dealing with work-related stress and employee' wellbeing as a big company. Ensuring employees are not subject to stress is an employers responsibility not only under health and safety regulations (HSWA 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999), but also other laws such as Employers' Liability Act 1969, the Public Order Act 1986, etc. Having effective policies and procedures such as including stress and mental health issues in your Health and Safety Policy is also a legal requirement.

Duty holders of SME's are becoming more and more aware of these responsibilities. Especially because many are starting to realize that a happy workforce and well organized work processes are essential for surviving and expanding during the present economic downturn. A recent study of Zurich Insurance conducted among 500 SME' decision-makers have shown that 42% of them realized that stress was having a negative impact in their businesses and expressed a desire to tackle the problem. 25% have serious worries about the deterioration of employee' work morale and the high costing stress-related absences, especially during the last two years. The study also highlighted that a high percentage of employers feel stressed and pressured.

During the worse period of the recession 2008-11, many SME's had to take radical cost-cutting actions, which automatically had translated into overloaded workforce and exasperation.

So how would you know where to start and how big of a problem there is in your SME?

1. The law recommends treating the work-related stress problem as any other work risk. Using continuous and regular risk assessments are essential and will help you recognize to what extent stress is affecting your organization.

2. Make sure all employees know exactly what their obligations are, starting with the initial training, conducting regular performance reviews, setting clear objectives and targets. Having a written job description for each employee and highlighting their particular responsibilities proves to be an excellent tool to reduce stress.

3. Every change means and leads to more spending more and is a major cause of work-related stress. Planning ahead and informing your workforce about future organizational or structural changes is always helpful to avoid stress.

4. Try to involve employees in the decision-making process. Let them feel free to express their suggestions and worries. Not only will this control stress levels, but it is also proven to be beneficial for reducing costs. Managers need to be supportive and sympathetic.

5. Invest in training as much as you can afford. It makes staff more involved and more compromised with the company, apart from making them feel more secure it helps them receive a personal benefit from the job.

6. Good, fluent communication is also essential.

And remember that work-related stress does not necessarily occur in specific industries or only in people who have major responsibilities in their job. It is the silent, fast growing and expanding disease of the whole of our society.

None of us can ignore it.

Stress in the Work Place and How to Tackle It was written by our top health and safety consultant in Manchester

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